Creepy dolls, alien Tr-iPods, and Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch: These may sound like the events of the past year, but they are in fact the target of parody in the Weinstein Company release of “Scary Movie 4.” Back from the third installment of the series, veteran comedic director David Zucker takes the reins. This low-brow comedy is shameless as it takes aim at the films “Saw,” “The Village,” “The Grudge,” “War of the Worlds” and even “Million Dollar Baby.” “Scary Movie 4” may not be perfect, but it has its clever moments and devilish cameos. You know that when Tr-iPods are actually large iPods that have playlists that go from “Hits of the ’80s” to “Destroy Humanity,” you just can’t stifle a laugh.
Once again Anna Faris reprises her fundamental character of the utterly clueless Cindy Campbell. Our story picks up directly where “Scary Movie 3” left off. As Cindy tries to forget her painful, albeit hilarious past, she finds some strange goings on in the house where she lives. After getting a message from a familiar looking dead child who only communicates in “meows,” Cindy enlists her clumsy neighbor Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko) to help her. After the Tr-iPods launch their doomsday attack, Cindy and Tom attempt to escape their wrath until finally stumbling upon the little ghost boy’s father in an “old” village. Sure, it sounds pretty stupid, and that’s what happens when you mash six or seven plots together and call it a movie. While you shouldn’t see “Scary Movie 4” for its amazing plot twists, the cameo by a certain Michael Jackson impersonator alone is both frightening and hilarious. In no other film could someone tell children to run toward alien Tr-iPods to escape a Michael Jackson. You’re not going to find that caliber of humor anywhere else.
Brenda (Regina Hall), Cindy’s over-sexed friend, is back again, alive and kicking after her death in the last film. Along with appearances by Carmen Electra as blind Ivy Walker from “The Village,” and Dr. Phil trapped in a filthy bathroom with Shaquille O’Neal a la “SAW.” While the film may seem like a long line of cameos, try to recall all the celebrities in “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and this movie pales in comparison. Perhaps my favorite celebrity appearance is the creepy jigsaw doll from “SAW” – in my mind he’s a celebrity. Craig Mazin does a spectacular job of recreating the malicious, yet hilarious jigsaw voice in addition to his contributions to the screenplay. Perhaps the biggest laugh of all comes at the end of the movie, when Bierko recreates the infamous Tom Cruise on “Oprah” incident. Bierko doesn’t just jump on the couch; he eats the stuffing out of it and breaks Oprah’s wrists. Hopefully the movie won’t be pulled like that one episode of “South Park” – you know the one.
“Scary Movie 4” is not the type of movie you rush out to see, but it’s definitely worth the price of a rental. If you’re a fan of any of the preceding “Scary Movie” movies, or of any of the featured films, don’t go depriving yourself of this one. Bottom line: it’s a fun 83 minutes of time where you don’t have to think too much… And they make fun of Tom Cruise. What more are you looking for?